As I have begun this journey of disruptive innovation in education, I have faced many triumphs and many disappointments. It has been an incredibly enjoyable trip. As you know, sometimes the road is smooth, the weather is perfect, the traffic is clear and the kids sleep well. However, when the rain comes pouring down out of nowhere, I'd rather turn around and just go back home.
Just recently in class, I had a student rant about how he was confused about everything. I began to prod him about his reasoning as I would believe adding gaming elements into the classroom would win over any middle school kid's heart. He began to state that although he is very much use to gaming... school and gaming are a weird combination. Everything in class seems much like a game and it has become confusing. What really interested me was the student's choice of words. The reference to school is considered "boring" or something that you have to do versus gaming being fun and something you want to do. The combination has created something that is such an enigma that certain students become stagnant and confused as stated. The pull between fun and school becomes uncomfortable. At the end of the day, much like playing any new game, the user has to get used to the functions. They have to adapt to the environment and they must explore without the fear of failure. Remember they might begin with 5 lives right?
I have also witnessed other situations where the freedom of student choice and voice becomes a struggle because of the lack of the structure of being told what when, where, and how to do "it". The choice begins to become overwhelming as they now have to become more organized and self-sufficient. Students begin to realize that they have to quickly develop these important coping skills in order to function in this new environment. In the real world, as I leave home to head to school I might be aware of my usual route. However, if traffic begins to become a problem then it might result in me being late. I then realize that I have to leave earlier in order to get to work on time and I am not pleased. The need to leave earlier might result in the need to wake up earlier next, the need to go to bed earlier arises. In other words, life happens and you have to learn to make adjustments whether uncomfortable or not to meet the demands of the situation.
The great thing about what initially felt like setbacks began to feel like victories. Students were feeling the impact of new learning methods and the change of mentality forced them to develop skills for future readiness. The confusion in the gamification methods began to bring about curiosity and engagement. The confusion leads to inquiry-based learning. Students begin to take ownership in the learning process as they start to make real-world connections.
It is not easy fighting against all odds. Being a disruptive innovator in a system where the status quo is the norm. Taking risks, being bold, and not being afraid of negativity can take their toll but there is beauty in the ashes. The reward is hearing how much students have fun while learning something new is my new addiction. The goal remains to change the system, one class at a time, one student at a time against all odds.
*Pictures courtesy of HBO's Game of Thrones